Monday, 9 September 2013

Superman: Unchained #1 Review

Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Jim Lee

This has been a series that I've been looking forward to ever since it was announced. With Superman turning 75, DC has really pushed the boat out in celebrating, having two new series releases (this, and Batman/Superman), the Man of Steel film, and the Superman: Unbound Animated film. Besides Man of Steel this was however the one I was looking most forward to, as with my favourite artist, Jim Lee, and the brilliant writing ability of Scott Snyder, it's bound to be amazing.


When satellites start falling from the sky, Superman goes in search of the culprit, starting with the most logical suspect, Lex Luthor.


This was a phenomenal issue, and a brilliant start to what I'm sure will be an amazing series. I always had high hopes that Scott Snyder would deliver on this series, as after having a fantastic run on Swamp Thing, as well as currently doing an outstanding job on Batman, I was sure that he's take the Man of Tomorrow, and give us the series that we truly deserve. To be honest when I started reading this issue I wasn't too sure if it was what I was hoping for, as the start was very different from what I expected, but the issue soon showed a perfect reason for this, making the unique start necessary. The thing however that Snyder probably handled the best in this issue was the dialogue, as everything felt so natural, and the character's were spot on, acting exactly as I'd expect them to. Snyder also did a brilliant job of adding mystery to this story, as well as drama, and excitement, which really lifted the whole atmosphere of the issue, making it much more interesting, and dynamic. The issue also had a bit of action in it, and although it wasn't a lot, Snyder handled it perfectly. I also liked how Snyder managed to add a 75th Anniversary motif in the story, showing that this is a special occasion. What made this more interesting however was that it was very subtle.

The art was phenomenal, just as I expected from Jim Lee. Although this series looked interesting, and Snyder's a great writer, it was the fact that Jim Lee would be working on the artwork that sold me on this series, as he's my favourite artist, and I could gladly buy a comic just for his art, even if the comics poor (luckily this one wasn't). The detail in Lee's art was as usual excellent, and to a very high standard, with everything looking pristine, with even the minor details being amazing. The character's were also handled perfectly, and I especially liked how he drew Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, and obviously Superman. The thing I like most about this Lee drawing Superman, is that I've seen Lee draw Superman on four series now (Batman during Hush, Superman during For Tomorrow, Justice League, and this), and although it's always been obvious that it's Superman, Lee's always tweaked the way he's drawn him, having him more darker during For Tomorrow, and obviously re-designed for the New 52 in Justice League, but even this version looks slightly different than the Justice League rendition. The fold out page was also spectacular, and well worth the extra dollar, as it really made the issue feel that much more special (even if the writing on it was slightly awkward to read). I will however finish talking about Lee's artwork by saying the one flaw that bugged me, and that was that one panel was slightly too rough, which was disappointing, but it didn't take away from the remaining art which was amazing. The inks from long time Lee collaborator, Scott Williams, and colours from Alex Sinclair also really helped to bring the story to life, being very vibrant, and setting a brilliant tone to the series.

As I said this issue started fairly differently to most series opener's, with a boy looking into the sky with a pair of binoculars, and seeing some huge blue creature with glowing red eyes. Now although I wasn't initially sure if I liked this start, after a second read, being able to take it in much clearer I was able to understand it much more, and felt it was the perfect opener for this series. I just loved the lighthearted feel to it, and how it gave the very human natured feel that a Superman issue brings. I also found the creature that came from the sky very interesting, and look forward to seeing how Snyder develops him.

The issue would then go onto show Superman trying his best to stop random satellites from falling to Earth. Although a bit random, this was a brilliant way of adding mystery to the series, giving Superman, and his alter-ego, Clark Kent something to track down, and solve. This also leaves the question as to whether this blue creature is connected some way to this incident, or whether the two are unconnected (though I'd be surprised if they weren't). I also liked how with this added it gave time for Snyder to do some monologue with Superman, which was very interesting, and really added drama to the sequence, which was a nice touch.

Superman wasn't the centre of attention throughout the entire issue, as it would show you Clark working at the Daily Planet, alongside friends, and colleagues, Jimmy Olsen, and Lois Lane. The interaction between these character's in this issue was simply outstanding, as although we've seen the three interact in past stories, whether in Superman, or Action Comics, this has been the best so far, feeling much truer to the character's. I also loved how this added a bit of normality to the issue, showing that although Superman does go off fighting villains, he does also have a very normal life, that involve normal people, and I'm glad that Snyder's showing this in this series.

Another person that appeared in this issue was none other than Superman's greatest rival, and villain Lex Luthor, who's still in prison. Now although Luthor isn't my favourite Superman villain (far from it), he has been a great foe for Superman over the years, and it's always nice to see him make an appearance, as long as it's justified. I say this as Luthor is one of the most over used villains in comics, coming back every few weeks having already made many appearances in the New 52 between the various Superman series'. This appearance however was justified, as Luthor was the main suspect for the satellites coming down, and Superman went to question him. This just made for a great, and dramatic sequence, that was entertaining, and exciting, and although I don't want Luthor to have a significant role in this series, it would be nice to see this developed slightly.

This issue also had a two page Epilogue story at the back, which was also written by Snyder, but this time pencilled by Dustin Nguyen. This story would see Jimmy and Perry White talking about Perry's great-uncle's binoculars, whilst fishermen hauled in a mysterious man who was missing his eyes. Now this was an interesting epilogue, and although it was nowhere near as good as the main story, it did leave questions that need answers, making me look forward to the next issue even more than I already was. I was however not a fan of the art, as although Nguyen has never been one of my favourite artists, his work in the past on the likes of Batman: As The Crow Flies, and Batman: Heart of Hush were very good, whereas his art on this was just terrible. It was way too rough, and unrealistic, and although you could see character's facial expressions they too felt awkward, and unrealistic.

Final Verdict

This was an epic start to what will hopefully be a fantastic series. It had everything from action, to mystery, with even a bit of fun, and humour. All this along with the introduction of a mysterious blue creature made this a very memorable opening issue, and I for one can't wait to see how Snyder, and Lee will continue this. Due to all this I'd highly recommend this to anyone, as although there have been a few good Superman stories in the New 52, we've finally got the Superman series we deserve.

Rating: 5/5